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Turnover leaves APD in ‘staffing crisis;’ response to calls lagging
Sunday, 02 May 2021 13:59
By JOHN NORTH
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Since January 2020, the Asheville Police Department has accepted resignations from 76 of its 238 sworn officers, resulting in what Asheville Police Chief David Zack termed a “staffing crisis” in an April 27 email responding to questions from the Daily Planet.

The aforementioned resignations tally was accurate as of noon April 27, but Zack added, “More resignations are anticipated. It will take years for (the) APD to recover the number of officers we have lost.”

The resignation of 76 officers “does not take into account sworn retirements or terminations, nor any non-sworn employees,” according to Christina Hallingsle, the APD’s public information officer.

To that end, Zack stated that, “when taking both resignations and leaves into account, APD is down 35-38 percent of sworn staff daily.”

And, contrary to press reports elsewhere that described the APD as operating from a “crisis mode,” Zack insisted that, instead, his department’s challenge should be described simply as a “staffing crisis.” 

Regarding questions about the impact of the severe staffing shortage, Zack reported that response times by officers have increased dramatically. 

As a result of the staffing crisis, in some call categories, response times have doubled, tripled — or even worse — from tallies over several previous years’ numbers.

Zack added, “It is also important to note that response times are likely to increase as the number of tourists who visit our city increase and, in turn, (result in) increasing traffic and travel times.”

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30 more people moved from homeless camps around Asheville
Sunday, 02 May 2021 13:56

From Staff Reports 

Working with community partners, the City of Asheville on April 23 provided 15 rooms for unsheltered people relocated from Duke Energy property near Isaac Dickson Elementary School, a recent city press release stated.

More specifically, “15 hotel rooms (were provided on April 23) for another 30 people. But, it’s a temporary fix,” Asheville television station WLOS (News 13) reported later on April 23.

“Right now, there isn’t a long-term plan,” Nicole Brown, deputy director of programs and strategy with Homeward Bound, was quoted as saying by News 13. 

“Another 30 people moved from Asheville homeless camps to temporary housing. Each day, Brown makes it her mission to change that. ‘We believe that housing is a basic human right, and that housing is the answer to homelessness,’ she said.” according to News 13.

The partners in the April 23 move included Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness, Homeward Bound and BeLoved, who “did outreach to people in this encampment, helped them pack their belongings and transported them to a local hotel,” the city release noted.

“Provision of this temporary shelter is in response to safety issues that have arisen at encampments on public property and this Duke Energy property,” the release stated. “Using federal funds anticipated from the American Rescue Plan, the city has been proactive in assisting people experiencing homelessness in this and other encampments by identifying temporary housing for these unsheltered populations. These include people at encampments at Aston Park, Riverbend Park and under the I-240 bridge on (North) Lexington Avenue.

“Encampments will not be allowed to return or resume in these areas. City ordinance prohibits camping on city property  (Art. III of Chapter 12, Sec. 12-51). 

“While the city has been aligned with CDC guidance, regarding unsheltered populations during the pandemic, issues that have arisen in these encampments pose safety issues to people in these encampments and our larger community,” the city release stated.

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‘Dramatic’ Youngs Mountain Trail opens for hiking near Lake Lure
Sunday, 02 May 2021 13:54

From Staff Reports

LAKE LURE — A new hiking trail just opened at Youngs Mountain, offering spectacular views of Lake Lure, Rumbling Bald, Weed Patch Mountain, and the lower Hickory Nut Gorge. 

Conserving Carolina opened the 2.1-mile trail with a ribbon-cutting on April 21.  

Trails Specialist Peter Barr said, “The Youngs Mountain Trail is Conserving Carolina’s most spectacular trail project yet, and it will serve as a crown jewel segment of the budding Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail network. 

“Its overhanging rocks and dramatic cliff ledges offer stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains, including Buffalo Creek Park and Chimney Rock State Park,” Barr added.

“With the opening of the Youngs Mountain Trail, this breathtaking landscape is one step closer to being linked together by the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail,” Barr said. 

The trail passes through 437 acres of forever-protected land that provides a haven for biodiversity, including numerous rare or endangered plants and animals. The mountain is home to bear, deer, bobcats, turkeys and many other kinds of wildlife. The lower part of the trail crosses several beautiful brooks while the top of the trail passes over sheer rock with a lush community of mosses and lichens.  

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